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07-Jan-2020 09:55

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For a fossil to be a good index fossil, it needs to have lived during one specific time period, be easy to identify and have been abundant and found in many places. If you find ammonites in a rock in the South Island and also in a rock in the North Island, you can say that both rocks are Mesozoic.

Different species of ammonites lived at different times within the Mesozoic, so identifying a fossil species can help narrow down when a rock was formed.

Bring relative dating principles to life with the activity Rock layers and relative dating.

Students begin by observing a photograph and a diagram of rock layers near Whanganui, watch an animation about how the layers were formed, then use an interactive labelling diagram to work out the order in which the rocks were created.

Fossils are important for working out the relative ages of sedimentary rocks.

Suppose you find a fossil at one place that cannot be dated using absolute methods.

Relative dating by biostratigraphy is the preferred method in paleontology and is, in some respects, more accurate.